While No. 1 seeds Kansas and Villanova have advanced to the Final Four as expected, it’s a safe bet that oddsmakers were not advising fans from Michigan or Loyola of Chicago to book flights to the finals at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, when the NCAA Tournament started 16 days ago.
The No. 3 Wolverines and No. 11 Ramblers shocked everybody but their fans in reaching the Final Four, and that’s the kind of buzz that adds excitement to The Southsider Voice’s annual Basketball Blitz, which pairs advertisers with team in the tourney. The winning business will receive a quarter-page color ad valued at $390; the second-, third- and fourth-place finishers will each receive an eighth-page ad worth $210.
The opening game at 6:09 p.m. Saturday on TBS pits Loyola (32-5 and paired with Cardinal Insurance Services) against Michigan (32-7, ASAP Payroll Service). The Ramblers tie the lowest seeded teams to reach the Final Four, joining George Mason (2006), VCU (2011) and LSU (1986). Those three all lost in the semifinals, a jinx that Loyola plans to break.
Michigan is the hottest team in the tourney, having won the Big Ten tournament and its last 13 games.
The second contest features Kansas (30-7, Sleepy Hollow Pet Ranch) and Villanova (34-4, John Walke Garage Doors), which won the 2016 tournament.
The winners will meet at 9:20 p.m. Monday on TBS.
For those of you who had your brackets busted after the second round, you might want to consult Denise Summers before filling out one next year.
Summers, a part-time graphic designer at The Voice, filled out a bracket at Beck Service Center, where she also works, and picked Villanova, Loyola and Michigan to reach the Final Four ... but she has Michigan State winning it all.